CAREERS IN AVIATION
Although having a short stature and a delicate figure could pose a challenge to those who want to join law enforcement, for Odalys Hurtado, an officer of the Polk County Sheriff's Office, this has not been an impediment. His ambition is greater than his height and he wants to become a pilot so that one day he can work for his agency's Aviation Unit.
Officer Hurtado from West Palm Beach and Mexican parents, at the age of 23, has combined her two passions (public law enforcement officer and pilot) with successes. Thanks to the incentive programs of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Aviation program of Polk State College, she is studying in the Professional Pilot Program where she is currently the only Hispanic.
P: What prompted you to join the Polk County Sheriff's Office and study at Polk State College?
R: I always wanted to dedicate myself to enforcing public order; I started at the Polk County Sheriff's Office in January 2019. As part of the training, the program includes passing through all the units of the agency and the aviation unit attracted me, it was like love at first sight. I also thought: "If others can do it, so can I." Soon I was already in a command simulator booth at Polk State Airside Center where I am studying to become a professional pilot.
P: Why did you choose a law enforcement and aviation career?
R: The greatest motivation I have had is the idea that there are more women in those fields, both very dominated by men. We need both men and women. Women have another set of skills that benefit our agencies and the different units. The other driving force has been my family. I am the first to attend university. When I told my mother that I was going to be a pilot, she couldn't believe it and then even though I was already studying, she still didn't believe it until I told her "I'm already a pilot, mom" and showed her the photos. She is very proud of me.
P: Would you recommend Polk State College to other people interested in the field of aviation?
R: I would always recommend others to study at Polk State College because it is the best. Not only because I study here, but because of all the positive experiences I have had, from the programming of classes and financing, to the continuous help from the staff. Every day it is more expensive to pursue a career including the aviation program, but at Polk State College it is extremely affordable and the reward is great.
P: What are your goals and what advice do you have for others who aspire to enter aviation?
R: My ultimate goal is to graduate with all the certifications I need to enter the Aviation Unit of the Sheriff's Office. That involves flying helicopters or planes when looking for a suspect, a missing person or for any type of emergency.
My dream is to be able to do my bit to this nation and to the Polk County Sheriff's Office that has trusted me. My advice is that they never give up when it comes to achieving a dream, that they continue studying and work hard, because when you give up is when you can't make your dreams come true.